In brief

  • The South Korean Ministry of Science and ICT is to provide $3.1 million in grants to blockchain startups.
  • It will select nine projects, awarding up to $360,000 to each.
  • The program launched in 2019 with grants to 11 startups.

South Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT (Information and Communications Technology) is set to provide $3.1 million in grants to local blockchain startups, in order to boost the commercialization of blockchain technology.

The Blockchain Technology Verification Support Project will see the Ministry of Science and ICT working alongside the National IT Industry Promotion Agency (NIPA) to select nine projects through free public offerings, awarding grants of up to $360,000. 

11 blockchain grants awarded in 2019

The government launched the program last year, awarding grants to 11 blockchain startups. To date, they have obtained five patents, nine copyrights, and three memorandum of understanding (MOU) contracts, working towards commercializing blockchain-based applications.

Over the next two weeks, the Ministry will create nine categories of blockchain technology, with startups asked to develop applications in each category. Those considered to have the best technology will be awarded 450 million won ($360,000) per category from a pot of 3.9 billion won ($3.1 million).

According to the Ministry’s information and communication policy officer Park Yoon-kyu, the Ministry wants local blockchain startups to grow rapidly and eventually facilitate the growth of South Korea’s blockchain ecosystem.

Blockchain a key pillar of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The government of South Korea sees blockchain as a technology in an early phase of growth, including it as  one of the five key pillars of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Seoul and Busan, in particular, have been the most active supporters of the blockchain industry and startups within it, launching initiatives such as Seoul’s blockchain voting system.

The Ministry’s announcement comes less than two weeks after the National Assembly of South Korea passed a key piece of legislation that legitimizes the crypto industry with tightened anti-money laundering (AML) regulations and a licensing program for cryptocurrency exchanges.